In 1985, Ellison C. Pierce, Jr. M.D., proposed and guided the formation of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF). As its first President, Dr. Pierce was instrumental in the APSF becoming a model for others to emulate while achieving its mission of “encouraging activities that will prevent patients from being harmed by the effects of anesthesia.” In October 1997, Dr. Pierce became Executive Director of APSF, and I was elected President. It is an honor and privilege to succeed Dr. Pierce and to have the opportunity to lead the Foundation that has contributed so much to anesthesia patient safety. Every leader should have an “agenda” for the future. My agenda is very practical—maintain the past successes and seek opportunities and direction for new achievements.
Examples of past successes from the APSF that must continue to flourish are the APSF Newsletter and the grants to support research related to anesthesia patient safety. The quarterly APSF Newsletter has a circulation of more than 60,000 making it the most widely distributed source of anesthesia information in the world. As such, I wish to see the APSF Newsletter continue to grow as a mechanism for timely discussion of issues relating to anesthesia patient safety as well as the “forum” for debate between those individuals or groups with differing views on relevant issues. With respect to research, I am committed to the continued focus of the APSF in funding investigators who pursue questions dealing directly with issues of anesthesia patient safety and their implementation into clinical care. To further develop available funding for this research, I believe it will be important not only to maintain the generous funding from the American Society of Anesthesiologists and contributions from industry, but to also optimize financial support from other sources including state anesthesia component societies, anesthesia specialty and subspecialty societies, and individual contributors.
An example of a new opportunity for the APSF to explore in the future is the role of “simulation” in education and training that will lead to strategies designed to maintain and improve anesthesia patient safety. The APSF and, in particular, members of its Executive Committee, have been preeminent in the development of anesthesia simulator technology. It is my view that the time has arrived to make anesthesia simulation a top priority for APSF in fulfilling its mission for education and research that leads to improved anesthesia patient safety during the perioperative period. I am pleased that industry has indicated an interest in establishing a “partnership” with APSF to make anesthesia simulators and technology available to an even greater number of practitioners. Funding of research, especially for curriculum development applicable to anesthesia simulators, and including performance based credentialling, will receive my highest level of support.
It will be an important goal for the APSF to learn from our constituents what they view as issues of anesthesia patient safety. In that regard, I intend to support the development of a survey of anesthesia providers seeking input as to important safety issues as perceived by those involved with direct patient care during the perioperative period. Although capnography and pulse oximetry have undoubtedly contributed to major decreases in anesthetic-related morbidity and mortality, there is continued need for vigilance. The recent suggestion that medication errors and anesthesia fatalities are increased in outpatient or office based-facilities vs. inpatient facilities provides an immediate opportunity for the APSF to participate in designing approaches to study the validity of this potentially important “new” anesthesia patient safety issue.
The past successes and contributions of the APSF under the direction of Dr. Pierce and its Board of Directors have established a proud tradition for the future. I look forward to being part of the future goals and successes of the APSF as it fulfills its mission for optimizing anesthesia patient safety.